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ISSUE 118 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/11/2005

Mustache week grows in popularity

By Kelly Wilson
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 11, 2005

Mustache: the word may cause fear and revulsion in the minds of some readers. This is because many students simply do not understand the ‘stache and what it stands for, due to cultural stereotypes depicting classic ‘stache sporters as raccoon huntin’, motor-home occupants or flirtatious policemen.

However, the mustache is, in reality, a long-honored tradition of facial hair exploration, and here at St. Olaf, an entire week – Mustache Appreciation Week (MAW) – has been dedicated to the celebration of this misunderstood facial crop.

The ‘stache is not merely a modern phenomenon. In fact, the ‘stache traces its roots all the way back to the time of the ancient Egyptians, when pencil-thin ‘staches appeared on pages of papyrus. The ‘stache saw its first waves of persecution during Roman times, when ‘stache wearers were labeled “barbarians.” Oh, Humanity, where did you go wrong?

The mustache has endured millennia of abuse. And for today’s modern society, the mindset is, tragically, no different. While people like Tom Selleck and Ron Jeremy have attempted to bring pride back to the ‘stache, people like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin have brought disgrace to the ‘stache community.

It is apparent, in this day and age of ‘stache prejudice, that the revolution needs a leader. Here at St. Olaf, those pioneers are Brendan Eagan ‘05 and Tom Balsley ‘05. Through Eagan and Balsley’s efforts during MAW, the ‘stache could have a glorious “Renaissance,” the likes of which this world has never seen.

MAW began two years ago, after an enchanted Eagan fell in love with the versatility that a ‘stache brought to his friend Balsley’s face. All in good fun, Balsley decided to continue sporting the ‘stache, but met with some hostility from his peers. “I noticed that people didn’t really comment on my stache, as if they thought that I thought I could pull off the stache.”

The duo decided to take ‘stache matters into their own hands. They designated a week in March in which to “liberate their ‘staches” and, consequently, themselves.

“We just try to promote the liberation of self and spirit that comes from upper-lip emancipation,” Eagan said. Balsley agreed: “This week is about taking a stand for the inherent beauty of the ‘stache and to say, ‘Hey, just because I’m not 40 years old, working my job and raising some kids does not mean that I can’t have a ‘stache.’”

Because of MAW, ‘stache growers finally have a week to show off their follicle cultivation, interpreting their “stacheocity” on an entirely personal level. Eagan commented on his own ‘stache preferences: “I usually go down in stages like keeping a soul patch, chops and the like, but trying to keep the ‘stache central. Each day I will try to feel out a different form or ‘stache embodiment,” Eagan said.

Evidently, the mustache opens not only a path to self-discovery, but also to greater kinship of ‘stache believers. “Everyone can participate, because everyone can appreciate. You don’t have to grow ‘em to show ‘em,” Balsley said.

Perhaps the dreams of these men are foolish, but they are not small. These ‘stache supporters hope to ignite a flame of mustache appreciation within the hearts of St. Olaf underclassmen, so that MAW and its legacy of ‘stache pride can live on. Not many are willing to bear their fears, their innermost vulnerabilities and say to the world, “Hey world, my upper lip is covered, and I am still beautiful!” But with MAW, they may someday be able to do that.

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